NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell is not a happy man at the moment. If he had his way, an 18 game NFL regular season would beginning a year from now. Instead, NFL owners and the NFL players union pushed back this week and what is likely an inevitable change won’t happen until at least 2012. If instituted, the plan could move key dates of the NFL season forward and push the Super Bowl to either President’s Day weekend or the last weekend of February. If the latter transpires, that puts it smack dab on a collision course with America’s second highest viewed program of the year, the Academy Awards. And yes, the Academy, and no doubt ABC, is quite aware of the problem.
Even with another year to have to worry about the conflict, Bruce Davis, Executive Director of the AMPAS, told Variety, “It’s obviously something we’re keeping a close eye on.” There are a number of options for the Academy to consider.
The initial theory is that the granddaddy of award shows could return to Mondays. The program was moved to Sunday nights for logistical and ratings reasons in 2000, but if tied to President’s Day weekend, it could do “Sunday” like ratings on a Monday holiday. Or, it could continue a party-filled Super Bowl weekend to Monday night (talk about a clash of male vs. female demos).
On the other hand, this move could forward the initiative supported by some in the Academy to move the show earlier in the month or even into January. The idea was seemingly floated at a board meeting in the spring (and was no doubt was leaked for membership and industry reaction), but it was unclear how seriously the proposition was being considered. The end of January would only have the early rounds of the NFL Playoffs to contend with and should shorten what many still believe is a drawn out awards season which drains precious marketing dollars from increasingly tight studio budgets.
ABC, who has a long term and expensive contract with AMPAS to broadcast the show, would no doubt have a big say in when a move would occur. By having the show in February, it helps ABC’s ratings in February sweeps. Then again, with the show attempting to regain momentum after its lowest ratings in decades in 2008 there may be concern the ratings will fall again if the show moves back to Monday or a drastic change to January occurs. Of course, NBC has had huge success with the Golden Globes in January, but those ratings are still nowhere near the Oscars.
In this prognosticator’s opinion, January or the first week of February is the best option. A shorter awards season should lead to more surprises and daily intriguing which could only help increase interest in the program. Also, the social aspect, at least in LA and NY, of having Oscar parties around the show had significantly increased over the last decade. Moving the show to Mondays would hamper what has become the entertainment industry’s own version of a “Super Bowl.” (And trust, that cultural impact will come up in context of any decision by the Academy board.)
Make no mistake though, if the NFL expands it will affect the Oscars and a change will occur. And chances are, we’ll know where the party’s going a year from now.
Which would you prefer? The Academy Awards on a Monday night or keep the show on Sunday and push it to January? Share your thoughts below.